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Sarasota Opera Receives $50,000 from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation

November 10, 2016

Sam Lowry, Communications Officer
(941) 328-1322

Funding will support the 2016/2017 Sarasota Opera Festival Season

Sarasota - Sarasota Opera has been awarded a $50,000 Arts Appreciation Grant from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation. The grant offers unrestricted funding to area arts organizations in support of their artistic mission. This year’s Arts Appreciation Grant will help support Sarasota Opera’s 2016/2017 Festival Season, which marks the company’s 58th year of presenting grand opera on the southwest Florida gulf coast.

“We are extremely grateful to the Gulf Coast Community Foundation for their continued support of Sarasota Opera,” says Executive Director Richard Russell.  “This grant will help us to expand our education initiatives and maintain the artistic excellence Sarasota Opera has become known for around the world.”

“Sarasota Opera is one of the cornerstone cultural organizations that make our region so vibrant and enriching,” adds Mark Pritchett, president and CEO of Gulf Coast.  “Through this flexible grant, our Board aims to enable our partners at Sarasota Opera to focus on what they do best.”

On March 20, 2016, Sarasota Opera completed its 28-year Verdi Cycle becoming the only company in the world to have performed every work, both operatic and non-operatic, of Giuseppe Verdi. This fall, Sarasota Opera inaugurated an exciting new venture entitled “Sarasota Firsts” in which the company will produce operas never before seen on the Sarasota Opera House stage. For the 2016/2017 season, Sarasota Opera will present three operas in association with this new series as well as re-mount operas that have been beloved by Sarasota Opera audiences for years.

Sarasota Opera opened its fall season on October 28, 2016 with a new production of Donizetti’s comedy Don Pasquale to critical acclaim which will be followed by the U.S. premiere of Dean Burry’s The Secret World of Og performed by the Sarasota Youth Opera. Sarasota Opera’s Winter Festival Season will open on February 11, 2017 with the return of Giacomo Puccini’s stunning Madama Butterfly followed by Gioachino Rossini’s The Italian Girl of Algiers, Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites, and finally the return of Italo Montemezzi’s The Love of Three Kings. Don Pasquale, The Italian Girl in Algiers, and Dialogues of the Carmelites are all part of the Sarasota Firsts initiative. 

Together with its donors, Gulf Coast Community Foundation transforms our region through bold and proactive philanthropy. Gulf Coast is a public charity that was created in 1995 through the sale of the Venice Hospital.  Since then, it has become the philanthropic home of more than 650 families who have established charitable funds there, and has invested over $234 million in grants in the area of health and human services, civic and economic development, education, arts and culture, and the environment. Learn more at

Based on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast, Sarasota Opera recently completed its 57th consecutive season and the final season of the company’s internationally acclaimed Verdi Cycle making it the only company in the world to have performed every work of Giuseppe Verdi. 

In 1960, the company began presenting chamber-sized repertoire in the historic 320-seat Asolo Theater on the grounds of Sarasota’s Ringling Museum of Art. Recognizing the need for a theater more conducive to opera, the company purchased the former A.B. Edwards Theater in downtown Sarasota in 1979 and first performing in it in 1984 as the Sarasota Opera House. The theater has just undergone a $20 million renovation and rehabilitation enhancing audience amenities, while updating the technical facilities including increasing the size of the orchestra pit. The theater, which reopened in March 2008, has been called “one of America’s finest venues for opera” by Musical America.

Since 1983, the company has been under the artistic leadership of Victor DeRenzi and administrative leadership of Executive Director Richard Russell since 2012. The company has garnered international attention with its Masterwork Revivals Series, which presents neglected works of artistic merit, as well as the Verdi Cycle producing the complete works of Giuseppe Verdi. Recognizing the importance of training, Maestro DeRenzi founded the Apprentice Artist and Studio Artist programs. Sarasota Opera also maintains a commitment to education through its Invitation to Opera performances for local schools and the unique Sarasota Youth Opera program.

Sarasota Opera is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Programs are supported in part by an award from the Tourist Development Tax through the Board of County Commissioners, the Tourist Development Council and the Sarasota County Arts Council. Additional funding is provided by the City of Sarasota and the County of Sarasota.

Sarasota Opera 61 N. Pineapple Avenue Sarasota, FL 34236 (941) 366-8450